Tackling the stench beast

What horrors lurk behind the fridge?

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Image from here: Monster jokes

Weather: drizzle, the kind that turns everything to mud

Mood: quite happy

Word of the day: Scurryfunge – frantically cleaning before company arrives

Today I decided to take control and find the cause of the disturbing smell in the fridge. The smell was a bit like rancid milk and vomit and I felt pretty disturbed imagining what kind of twisted creature would create a smell like that.

There were a few places the smell might be coming from: under the fridge; at the back of it; or from the big pipe at the side of the fridge that looks like it belongs to a tumble dryer, even though we have no such machine. I sniffed down the pipe, and Mike peered  out from behind the door to shout in horror,

‘Don’t bloody smell it! It’ll leap out at you!’ then he hid back behind the door.

I pulled the fridge out, looked underneath. Finally I pulled out the drip tray, and there it was, the nest of my rancid milk life-form. There were leaves, bits of plastic and goo. I didn’t poke too deep because some things are better left unknown, but I emptied what I could into a bin bag (I’m sure the whole construction was held together with chewing gum) and then left the tray to soak.

I haven’t quite got over it yet.

Let the chips fall where they may

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Picture from here

Word of the day: zyzzyva – South American weevil

Weather: patchy

Mood: a bit snippy

Barry the road sweeper came to join us over break again. Everybody but me (I was doing the washing up) left the room, which upset him.

‘None of them like me, they’re all avoiding me,’ he snarled.

‘I think they’ve just gone out to smoke,’ I lied.

‘Yeah right. You don’t know what it’s like here, everyone in this place is out to get me.’

‘Take it easy, Barry. I don’t think anyone’s out to get you, people are just doing their own thing.’

Barry walked over to the sink, he leaned in towards me and said conspiratorially,

‘I saw the helicopters earlier, you saw them?’

‘Sure, I think they were air-ambulances,’ I said, wondering why the conversation had switched.

‘Bollocks they are! They were watching me!’

‘The helicopters are watching you?’

‘Yeah, but I know what they’re up to, they won’t catch me out.’

‘Ah,’ I said.

The best laid plans of mice…

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‘Aw look at his little snuffly nose!’

‘Argh! Get it away from me! It’s a monster!’

 

Weather: grey skies later dissipating into a Simpson’s sky.

Mood: alright.

Word of the day: teratogenic – producing monsters or abnormal growth

Today the mice came out to play and were darting around under the benches in the smoking area. With much shouting, Mike climbed onto the bench and refused to put his feet down until it was time to leave. Mateo was throwing down a few crumbs left over from lunch. He thinks we should fatten the mice up and have a roast. I suggested we get a cat.

Back home Jinjing left a load of cleaning products outside Neville’s room, the mop, the bucket, floor cleaner. Hamoudi was standing about looking doleful. This feels like the beginning of a war. I made sure to stock up on snacks so I can stay in my room if need be. I’ve been hiding in my room since, Neville should be home soon.

It’s the way of things! You can’t mess with the way of things!

What’s your unusual outrage-trigger? What will give you the wrath no matter how trivial?

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Weather: alright

Mood: ok

Word of the day: Agowilt – sudden sickening and unnecessary fear

The hedgehog cake face is still in the fridge. It gives me a shock every time I open the door and it’s grinning up at me like something out of a horror film. Nobody wants to throw it away, because it’s food. Nobody wants to eat it because it’s a cute hedgehog. We are stuck with it forever.

Today’s work drama was the big boss wanting Mike to cut the grass on a 1 (the possible settings are 1-5, the lowest we go is 3.) Mike stomped into the smoking area red-faced and raging.

‘What is he thinking? The man is mad! Mad! I’ve never cut that fucking lawn on a one! I’ve been cutting this grass for thirty years, never on a one!’ He sat down, hunched over into his fury, tugging on his vape to calm himself. At that point Nobby (another boss, nobody knows what of, something to do with pavements) came storming around the corner.

‘Did that twat just ask you to cut the grass on a one?’

‘Yes!’ said Mike, fists balled, eyes popping.

‘What’s the matter with him? I worked on a golf course for ten years, you never cut on a one! He’s an idiot!’

‘You cut on a three,’ said Mike howling like a wounded animal, ‘everyone knows you cut on a three!’

‘He’s lost his mind,’ said Nobby.

‘He’s changing everything, this is the beginning of the end!’ said Mike.

It took a while for Mike to calm down, and then we compromised by cutting the grass on a two. Contrary to expectations, it was fine and looked quite nice.

Picking up skills and massacring animals

 

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Look at those eyes! They have seen horror.

Monday is a shock it takes me all week to recover from.

Weather: a bit iffy

Mood: hermit crab in a bucket

Word of the day: Decarnate  denied or deprived of physical bodily form

Really enjoying my new connection to Mateo. Today he taught me how to make a simple bomb using a bolt, two nuts and some match heads. ‘For if you ever need to fight off the police,’ he explained.

For his birthday, Dan brought in a selection of cakes. One of the cakes was a large cute hedgehog (in pic). So cute that nobody could bring themselves to cut it.

‘I can’t do it!’ cried Mike. ‘Just look at his face!’ Over break everyone was milling in and out of the room, looking at the delicious cake sadly, unable to take a knife to it. Finally, somebody greedy enough (it may have been me) cut off the arse end. Slowly, everybody took a slice, reducing the cake bit by bit, leaving the face. Nobody could cut the face, so it now sits in the fridge. I’m told this is the only time a cake hasn’t been completely eaten in one sitting.

Just Brush It Off! (Sexual harassment at work)

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Sexual assault in Hollywood has been a hot topic for a while now (Weinstein et al). I’m a bit slow to form an opinion, so I’ve kept quiet, but just when it seems the story has finished, a new victim steps forward and tells of some horror that happened to her (or occasionally him). I think I’ve finally worked out how I see this, so here’s my take.

On the whole, people have reacted to the Weinstein stories with disgust, surprise and anger which is good, although how surprised people have been that this happens has surprised me. Fortunately there are plenty of women speaking out to say that this is not an isolated problem, this is endemic to almost all workplaces, which is definitely my experience. However, I think there is a danger of the discussion getting diluted, with one line of thinking being:

But a lot of these experiences are not a big deal, why does it matter if someone puts his hand on your knee, just brush it off!

I do understand this line of thinking, because most of experiences I’ve had weren’t a big deal at all, and I wasn’t bothered by them.  However, the point is

                                 NONE OF THEM SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED.

No harassment, no matter how small, makes the world a better place, and while most instances might be nothing much, the accumulation of many many instances makes life more difficult than it needs to be, it drives a wedge between people, it wears them down. In a workplace the focus should be on the job, with a degree of professionalism as the norm. And each small instance makes the big, serious instances more likely to happen, because they normalise wrong behaviour.

For me there are two straightforward demands that should come out of this, and apply to all people of any gender and in any job:

  • Professionalism should exist in every workplace, and no sexual intimidation should ever happen. No one should have to fend off unwanted advances. Focus should be on the job, it shouldn’t be sexual at all. (I realise there may be exceptions, after all many people meet their partner at work, but I don’t think it’s extreme to say that actual sexual interaction and banter should be kept outside work, so that people can choose if they are part of it or not.)
  • A level of polite respect should exist between strangers in the street. No one should be demanding attention from strangers without good reason. No one should be shouting any insults, personal remarks or trying to touch a stranger. This also goes for racist or disablist comments too, or just personal comments to a stranger, why is it necessary?

I’d be interested to hear if you have some disagreement with those requests, maybe you think they’re too extreme and controlling. I believe much of how we treat each other (superficially, at least) is down to habit rather than some innate ‘rightness’ or inevitability, and so if the current habits are harmful, we need new ones.

So anyway, when people shout about the smaller incidences that have happened to them, it is not because somebody touching you on the knee is traumatic (usually, anyway), it’s because there needs to be a change to how we treat colleagues and strangers, and that includes the small stuff.

But why do the protestations have to be so shouty and demanding? Why can’t everyone make the point calmly?

This applies to not just this issue, but a few other matters of discrimination affecting small groups. It’s natural to recoil when you hear someone being unpleasant, even about  a legitimate grievance. However, I believe it’s essential to be shouty in order to bring about change. The thing is this:

PEOPLE DON’T LIKE CHANGE

And altering how people work together and interact, is a massive undertaking. In the past mistreated people have reasonably and calmly expressed that there is a problem in how they are treated, which sometimes lead to others thinking ‘Oh yes, that seems unfair’. However, because people don’t like change, just thinking this didn’t alter their behaviour at all. Everything stayed the same.

It seems the only way to get people to change is by making ‘staying the same’ more distressing than making a change. An effective (if highly irritating) way of doing this is by being loud, obnoxious, demanding and unrelenting. This is what I believe we are seeing at the moment, and it seems to be working. When change happens, which certainly seems more likely now than ever before, then all the demanding can stop.

However, my opinion is always a work in progress, if you spot any flaws in my thinking, or have anything to add, please comment below, I look forward to hearing your take on this…

 

 

 

Beautiful Creatures

Continuing my celebration of Monday good things…

I took this photo at work.  We have a tropical butterfly event on at the moment, and I saw this one just sitting on a flower with its tongue out. I think it may have got drunk on the nectar.

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And below are some pictures of the butterfly pupae after we stuck them onto canes, ready to go into the puparium to hatch. Some look like leaves in order to hide from predators. Sometimes I find the butterflies can be annoying, smelly and a bit icky; so it’s good to remember that they are also beautiful and fascinating.

 

Please tell me about a good thing on your Monday, no matter how small.

 

My Ridiculous Anxiety Dream

I have variations on this dream quite often, but I think this is the daftest. I do sometimes drive a tractor for my job and occasionally I have to check on trees after a storm to make sure none have been uprooted or become unstable, so it has some basis in reality.

So I’d been driving a tractor out in a field and had stopped to check that none of the trees had toppled.  Suddenly I noticed that it had got dark so I needed to get back to base. I reached down to release the handbrake, but it wasn’t there! I felt for the gearbox, but it wasn’t there either! And there was no steering wheel! I was really panicking by this point and there were a few minutes of fumbling about, wondering why I wasn’t wearing shoes or a coat, before I finally worked out that I was in bed and not on a tractor at all. Instead of deciding that everything was fine and going back to sleep, my brain started on a new course of panic and I thought,

“But if the bed has got no gears or steering wheel, how am I going to get to work tomorrow?” Feeling frantic, I switched on the light, muttering to myself,

“I drive to work everyday, how do I normally do this on a bed with no steering wheel?”

A few more tormented seconds passed while I looked at my bed in confusion, before finally realising,

“I don’t need to drive my bed to work, I’ve got a car.”